June 30, 2014 / 10:58 AM / in 4 years

Ryanair finance chief Millar to step down after 23 years

DUBLIN, June 30 (Reuters) - Ryanair’s finance chief Howard Millar is to step down after 23 years, becoming the second deputy chief executive at the low-cost carrier to resign in the past 12 months.

Millar, 53, who helped grow the airline from 650,000 passengers in 1991 to 81 million last year, will leave in December and take up a role as a non-executive director on Ryanair’s board, the airline said in a statement.

Millar’s deputy, Finance Director Neil Sorahan, is to take over as CFO at the end of the year. Millar was leaving to pursue other career opportunities, the statement said.

Fellow deputy chief executive Michael Cawley left the company earlier this year after 17 years. Chief Executive Michael O‘Leary has said repeatedly in recent months that he does not intend to leave any time soon.

“Millar was an extremely strong CFO, central to some key events in Ryanair’s growth - from the (1997) IPO to the aircraft deals and most recently the bond placement,” said Gerard Moore, an analyst at Investec.

Hiring a replacement internally signals a focus on continuity, he said.

Opportunistic purchases of Boeing planes, most famously in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, have helped contain Ryanair’s cost base, one of the lowest in the industry.

Earlier this month Millar oversaw the company’s debut bond auction, which he said significantly reduced the company’s financing costs.

Ryanair last year completed the order of 175 Boeing jets, which it hopes will enable it to boost passenger numbers to 110 million by 2019. It cut charges for extra bags and for reprinting boarding passes as part of a major customer service overhaul. (Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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